Publisher: Paraclete Press
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From the first, Christians loved Mary. Christians today stand behind these fervent believers and peer over their shoulders. Frederica Mathewes-Green writes: "I hope that we will be able to see what they saw, and come to love her too. We'll do that by reading three ancient texts about Mary. In each we'll begin with some historic background, and then move to consider theological and cultural questions (sometimes, uncomfortable questions) that the document raises."
First, "The Gospel of Mary" is a humbly-told story of Mary's life from conception to the birth of her son, Jesus, put into written form as early as 150 AD. The second ancient text presented here is very brief prayer to Mary found on a scrap of papyrus in Egypt about a hundered years ago. The artifact is dated at 250 AD, although it could be much older. This is the oldest known prayer to Mary. It begins with the words, "Under your compassion," which give it its name, today. The third text, "The Annunciation Hymn of Rejoicing," was written by the Syrian poet Romanos about 520 AD., greets Mary with joy and wonder at Christ's conception. This hymn, offered every year in the Eastern Orthodox Church, uses complex patterns of rhythm, internal rhyme, and paradoxical juxtaposition. Together in one remarkable volume, these three texts open up the life of Mary, and her role in the church, in new and sometimes startling ways.